An ultracyclist from Gloucester who has set himself the goal of breaking 10 Guinness World Records has completed the first of those challenges, riding from Continental Europe’s most northerly point to its southernmost tip.
Lee Fancourt spent 21 days 12 hours cycling 4,200 miles unsupported from the top of Norway to the bottom of Spain, knocking 24 hours off the existing record. According to the Gloucester Citizen, in the last 29 hours of the ride, he covered 426 miles.
On his website Fancourt, disqualified from last year’s World Cycle Race after using a taxi to ensure his support drivers had food and water but failing to resume his ride at the point where he broke it, says Guinness World Records have so far accepted six of the 10 proposed record attempts.
He will undertake them between now and August next year, and says he will give full details once all 10 have been accepted, adding that they are “a combination of speed & endurance on both a road bike and on a mountain bike.”
He has revealed his plans for the final two, however, saying: “The last two records that I will attempt will be the most difficult and these are the records that I want to break the most.
“One of them I've already broken and that is 'Fastest to cycle around the World'. I just need to get the official record this time so no support crew in India and no taxis!”
The current Guinness World Record for that was set by Alan Bate in 2010 and stands at 125 days, including days spend travelling by means other than by bike, for instance to transfer from one continent to another.
Fancourt went on to complete his round-the-world journey last year in 104 days – 88 of those in the saddle – but that use of a taxi not ony put him out of the race, it also made him ineligible for the record.
“The second is arguably one of the most difficult records to break on a bicycle,” he adds. “I'm saving this one until last as not only will this be my absolute favourite record to break but it will be the toughest and I will need to be in the best physical condition that I've ever been in my life.
“I hope that after the first nine records are in the bag that I will be ready for this one. This record is 'Fastest to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats & back to Land’s End.’ These points are the furthest possible points between each other on the mainland UK.”
That record is currently held by Ben Rockett, who in 2010 covered the 1,880 return trip in 5 days, 21 hours and 8 minutes.
The 38-year-old’s latest ride took him from Nordkoff in Norway through Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and France to Punta di Tarifa in Spain.
Following the end of his journey his friend Graham Foot, who helped build up the Specialized S-Works SL4 he used on the ride, told the Gloucester Citizen: “At the moment he's collapsed with exhaustion on the floor of departures.
"He's so tired,” continued Foot, who runs the Slam 69 bike shop in Gloucester. “He has absolutely no idea how he stayed on the bike. He is completely fatigued, a shadow of his former self. He has lost so much weight."
He added: “He really had to push. Often he would have just two hours’ sleep under a bush sustained by just caffeine sugar, water.”
Ahead of that final, 29-hour push to the finish Fancourt, who on the previous leg cracked a rib after clipping a kerb, said on Facebook: “I've had my two hours’ sleep and now it's time for my last cycle ride of this challenge.
“My body is exhausted. My knees & ankles are slightly swelled on both legs. I'm unable to bend my wrists without immense pain. I've blisters on my hands and even on the soles of my feet from pushing the pedals. I have at least eight sores in my saddle area. Quite frankly, I am an exhausted, limping mess.”
After finishing that last part of the north to south journey he said: “Thank you all so much for your amazing support and extra thanks to those who donated towards my charity,” the Hollie Gazzard Trust, for which he has raised more than £4,000.
“I'm now going to eat like a king and sleep for a week,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.